Cue the dramatic music. The six-month mark is something that hangs heavy over every brain retrainer’s head. There is often so much build up and expectation around hitting six months of retraining. Instead of it being a celebratory milestone, it usually becomes a looming deadline that is very triggering.
I remember when I first started brain retraining and learned that it required a six-month commitment to work. I was daunted by needing to practice for so long because I was so unwell at the time, but I also decided that I would heal in five months. (I am shaking my head and laughing at myself while typing this). My thought process was that if it usually took six months, then I would do it in five because that’s just how type A I used to be. (More head shaking, but paired with a lot of self-compassion and kindness for that part of me).
I completely glanced over the statement that it takes a minimum of six months to rewire the brain and became very focused on healing in five-six months. As I started getting closer to the five-month mark, it became clear that was not realistic. Although I had made progress, I could tell that being fully healed in six months was not going to happen. This realization was such a disappointment and became a huge trigger for me. “How long was this whole thing going to take?” “Would I keep healing after six months?” “Was I doing something wrong because I didn’t have a miraculous healing in six months?” “Do I need something else because it’s taking too long?”
Sound familiar? What I have seen time and again now that I am a coach, is that almost everyone gets triggered by the six-month mark. So much so, that it’s almost predictable that a client will go into an ebb somewhere around month five-six.
So here’s the deal with six months: I can count on one hand all of the people that I personally know that recovered in six months. (I have been part of the brain retraining community since early 2016) For the vast majority of us, we are rewiring and repatterning decades of dysregulation. Expecting that to go away in six months sounds nice, but is often not super realistic given how long we have been in chronic fight/flight/freeze. For most of us, six months is the beginning of the journey, not the final destination.
Try to take recovery day by day instead and take the pressure off of yourself. Putting pressure on yourself to heal within a certain time frame isn't supportive. The mantra of “one day at a time” can be really helpful to shift your focus off of a timeline and back on to doing your best to show up for yourself and use your tools today. That’s it. Tomorrow will come and you can focus on it when it’s here.
I would also suggest reclaiming the six-month mark. Brain and nervous system retraining takes a lot of hard work, courage and determination. When you hit six months, instead of it being a let down that you’re not healed, let it be a milestone in your journey. Reflect back on all the progress that you have made, the patterns you have worked on changing, the tools you have learned, the awareness you have gained and celebrate all of it. In whatever way makes sense for you. Turn six months into a celebration of you, your hard work and bravery. (And if your brain is telling you that you haven’t made any progress, I can almost guarantee you that is not true. Look beyond your symptoms and I’m confident you will find progress.)
Want to learn more about the ins and outs of brain and nervous system retraining?
Sign up for my upcoming Recovering Together class:
Let's Stay In Touch!
Get Notified of New Offerings and Blog Posts:
Are you on Instagram? Me too! Follow me at: @ConnieBCoaching